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The West Wing Special

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    Chris Beachum
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    Just finished watching “The West Wing” special on HBO Max. Tremendous work by all! Several surprises along the way.

    I’m waiting to hear whether it is eligible for Globes, SAG and other guilds. They haven’t given me an answer yet. I’m almost certain it will be eligible for Emmys as a pre-recorded special and the actors in the movie categories. Similar to the Norman Lear specials, although they were live and not pre-recorded.

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    mf617
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    As a huge “West Wing” fan, I really enjoyed this fantastic special. To see that cast, including some of those bit players, come back and be just as sharp some twenty years later is a testament to Sorkin’s writing. What I came away from most astounded by was Thomas Schlamme’s direction. The special ends up being somewhere between a table read and full blown staging of the episode, and Schlamme’s direction keeps the story engaging and grounded as he pivots to some dazzling technical choices as a means of highlighting the special nature of this staged production. Schlamme’s direction and the technical aspects including lighting, sound and production design should be commended and rewarded, in whatever manner the special is deemed eligible. I also thought of where the show might fit in awards wise while watching. I don’t know that any of the actors would necessarily land a nomination because, at the end of the day, they’re not necessarily doing that much different from their original performances (as lauded as those were). However, I kind of wouldn’t be surprised to see Sterling K. Brown gain some attention. First of all, he is the only member of this ensemble coming in fresh and I thought he did a great job of embodying the simultaneously icy and warm nature of John Spencer’s original performance. Second, he is obviously an awards favorite. I also wonder if Martin Sheen could get some attention, especially as his is one of the greatest Emmys snubs of all time, but in general, I’m only expecting technical recognition awards-wise, but would be pleasantly surprised otherwise. I thought in terms of getting people to vote, this was an effective special. If you have a proclivity to “The West Wing,” I kind of imagine you’re already deeply entrenched in the democratic process, but as Bradley Whitford said from the top, if it gets just one new voter to lend their voice in this crucial year, it is a success. And beyond that, it is a special recapturing of a spirit of television we don’t see anymore and that I will likely return to even before the election. Another binge of “The West Wing” might even be on tap.

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    OLTLfan
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    I thought Brown was totally wrong for this. John Spencer played Leo as cranky and crotchety but with an undertone of genuine decency and affection. I saw none of that in SKB’s Leo. Brown played Leo as smooth, suave and aloof. Plus he’s far too young to play around the same age as Martin Sheen.

    All the guests were great though. Loved seeing CJ’s assistant and the reporters at the press briefing. Loved seeing Ed & Larry. Loved Ainsley Hayes as narrator. And Josh & Donna still give me all the feels. Too bad they couldn’t find a way to fit in Stockard Channing.

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